Median-based incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER)

Heejung Bang, Hongwei Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA) is a type of economic evaluation that examines the costs and health outcomes of alternative strategies and has been extensively applied in health sciences. The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER), which represents the additional cost of one unit of outcome gained by one strategy compared with another, has become a popular methodology in CEA. Despite its popularity, limited attention has been paid to summary measures other than the mean for summarizing cost as well as effectiveness in the context of CEA. Although some apparent advantages of other central tendency measures, such as median for cost data that are often highly skewed, are well understood, thus far, the median has rarely been considered in the ICER. In this paper, we propose the median-based ICER, along with inferential procedures, and suggest that mean-and median-based ICERs be considered together as complementary tools in CEA for informed decision making, acknowledging the pros and cons of each. If the mean-and median-based CEAs are concordant, we may feel reasonably confident about the cost-effectiveness of an intervention, but if they provide different results, our confidence may need to be adjusted accordingly, pending further evidence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)428-442
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Statistical Theory and Practice
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2012


  • Cost-effectiveness analysis
  • Cost-effectiveness plane
  • Mean cost
  • Median cost

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability


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